April 27, 2010

Bypass to the far east section of Klang Gate Ridge

Many trekkers are familiar with Tabur East and West. These two trails are very much enjoyed by trekkers for the beautiful city views and the serene lake and mountains sceneries. There is a section of the Klang Gate Ridge (on the east, near the Zoo) that many can see from MRR2 but not many people have been to this far east section. There is an existing way going into this section from the Rapid bus depot (in Taman Melawati), crossing a new housing area and into a private orchard. My friends and I have been to this section several times.

There is also another way to this far east section of the ridge … sort of a bypass from Tabur East. Many have trekked Tabur East … ascending the trail from the small river (and the double water pipes), trek a steep slope upwards, walk along the top of the rocky formations, down and up a steep valley and finally reached the last ropes and climb up to the peak. On the peak, one can go the end and look across at the other section of the ridge on the far east. This far east section can be seen but cannot be reached due to the steep dangerous drop at the end. But there is a way to cross over from the base of the last ropes.

Sometime ago a few of us successfully trekked from the last ropes (instead of climbing up) going downwards, all the way to the next section. We made a bypass and trekked up the highest peak at the far east of the Klang Gate Ridge.

On 17 April 2010, we decided to trek to the far east section of Klang Gate Ridge from Tabur East again. This time we wanted to look for a new and safer bypass. We set out early and trekked from the river all the way to the last ropes. From there, we headed downwards and move along side of the wall of the ridge. We have to move further downwards as the trail is very dangerous near the wall of the ridge. The terrain here is quite thick in various places and we have to cut away a fair bit to trek through.

(Instead of going up the last ropes, we went down and left to look for a way)

(We trekked pass the ravine from below Tabur East's peak and crossed over to the other section)

(We trekked further east and downwards)

(Found a safe way up and trek upwards though a small valley to the top)

We trekked pass the base of the peak (Tabur East’s last peak) from below and went across the deep ravine between the peak and the next section of the ridge. There we continued to trek downwards until we found a safe way up again. We began to trek up through a small valley until we reached the far east section of the ridge. At this valley junction, one can turn left and treks towards the end of this section. From there, you can actually see and shout to those who are at the Tabur East peak but they cannot cross over to this end the section.

(We continue to move eastwards, trekking on the top of this section of the ridge)

We did not turn left (as we have been there before) so we turn right to continue to trek further east of this section of the ridge. The trail here is fairly easy and the rocks and vegetation are similar to those of Tabur East and West except this part of the ridge is still unexposed and unspoilt. We trekked on the top of this section moving eastwards through some rocky terrains, small valleys and through a small forest. A few areas were quite dangerous and we used ropes to safely trek down the steep drop.

(The slope here is quite slippery)

(Very dangerous rock valley. One have to be extra careful here)

(We have to use ropes to tackle this steep and dangerous area. Left the ropes there for those who may venture into this section in the future)

(The vegetation is similar to Tabur East and West, except here, it is pristine and unspoilt)

(The four of us very glad to have successfully trekked from Tabur East bypass to the far east section. From left : EM Shiek, ML Lim, GT Lim and CK Lim)  

This section of the ridge is absolutely wonderful, unspoilt and relatively unexplored but it is not for the inexperience. One have to be very careful … plenty of loose soils, sharp rocks and slippery slopes. Slowly we made our way through the ridge and we finally reached the junction going out to a private property (an orchard). Nearby we saw a nice “tree house’ built by the locals from the orchard. From this junction one can proceeds further east to reach the highest peak of the whole Klang Gate Ridge (the whole Klang Gate Ridge about 16km long). It will take at least another three hours to trek to the highest peak, that is, if one can find the way from here.

(The tree house built by the locals from the orchard)

(From the tree house, we trekked out to the private orhard ... into civilisation)

(The highest peak of the whole Klang Gate Ridge located at the far east section near the Zoo Negara)

We have been to the highest peak so we decided not to go this time as we were all tired and exhausted. Running out of water, we headed out to the private orchard. We were glad to see the two Indonesian caretakers of the orchard who knew us since the very first time when we came to trek up the highest peak. After a quick rest, we have to figure out a way from here to get back to where we parked our car (at the river) a few kilometres away. But lucky for us, our good Indonesian friend has a 4WD pickup truck. We only have to ask and he offered to take us to our car. It is good to have friends everywhere you trek. We were driven to our car and after that we went to a nearby waterfall to wash up. As usual, our trekking trips always end with good food and this time it was delicious nasi campur and chendol at a nearly stall in Taman Melawati. We were very happy to complete another great outing at Klang Gate knowing that we successfully made a bypass from Tabur East to the far east section of the ridge.

April 19, 2010

Satu dua tiga empat ?

Many Chinese in Malaysia are obsessed with number games and bets. For three days a week, they patiently queue up at gaming outlets to ‘mai chee” (betting on numbers in Cantonese). There are several number games and bets in the country. The nickname given to the 3 big gaming companies is “KTM” … not the popular one known as Kereta Tanah Melayu. This KTM stands for Kuda, Toto and Magnum.

People bet on all sorts of numbers … their car registration, ID Cards, birth certificates, receipts … you name it, as long as there are numbers on it, they will bet on them hoping to strike it big. When they run out of numbers to bet, they have all sorts of ways from all sorts of places to find numbers that they hope will win them big money.

The common practice we always see are people shaking out pieces of papers (written with the numbers 0 to 9) from a container. They do this in temples, graves or at their ancestor’s shrine at home hoping that the gods or their dead loved ones will bless them with winning numbers. Some wrote numbers on red coloured hard boiled eggs during birthdays or special days, so that the person celebrating can pick out a set of numbers with their eyes closed. They believe that the person celebrating birthdays or special days possessed great luck. There are those who are always looking at things and listening to sounds. They claimed to be able to interpret things they saw or heard into numbers. Whether it is the shape of the clouds or the smoke swirls from burning joss sticks or the sounds of animal, they can find numbers in them. And those who don’t want too much hassle can conveniently obtain a “lucky number” via SMS ... there are outfits that provide this service for a nominal fee.

Others use extreme method to get to what they wanted. Have you heard about people seeking out graves of those who died recently and knock a hollow bamboo into the grave to pour dog’s blood in it? The belief is that the blood will cause serious discomfort to the dead in the grave and force the poor soul (believed to have the ability to predict winning numbers) to disclose the winning numbers or else more blood will be poured in. Is it true? I don’t think so but it is sadistically cruel. I have not heard of anyone striking it rich this way but my dad once told me a rather funny story about a guy (a chronic gambler) who actually went to a grave to carry out the evil bamboo and dog’s blood ritual. While he was doing it, he felt someone (or rather something) was pulling his pants. When he tried to run, he was held back. He was so frightened that he fainted on the spot.

Then the next morning his friends went searching for him and found him lying unconscious at the grave. They soon find out that while he was trying to knock the bamboo into the grave, he was so scared that he closed his eyes and did not see that his long pants was caught on the bamboo. While he was knocking the bamboo, his pants were being pulled into the ground. He must have thought something was pulling his leg and holding him back when he tried to run away. I thought you can only see this in ghost movies and comedies.

I remember another story that happened in my “kampung” (village). A lady who was found in trance in front of a “Latuk Kung” shrine (Latuk Kung is a deity that the Chinese worshiped believing that it will protect them from evil and keep their place safe). Someone said it could be the “Latuk Kung” that possessed her. Strange as it is, she began to mumble in Malay about how dirty the shrine was and needed to be cleaned and also ask to be given water to drink. Someone took the opportunity to ask if she can provide winning numbers for the coming draw. Immediately she shouted out loud in Malay “satu dua tiga empat” (meaning one two three four). Everyone present heard it loud and clear and was in a mixed reaction whether to believe or not … hey come on, one two three four? Sounds like someone wanted to pull a fast one. Anyway, after a while the lady regained consciousness but she could not remember a thing when told what had happened to her. Almost everyone who knew or heard of the incident placed high bets on the four numbers “1234” on the following draw.

Then when the result was announced, all were disappointed. The first prize number was “2444”. Everybody was cursing and swearing … then someone actually realised that the lady has given the correct first prize number. Huh? You see, when she said “satu dua tiga empat” she did not mean the straight forward “1234”. What she meant was ‘satu dua” and “tiga empat” … in other words, she meant one “two” and three “fours” … meaning one numeral “2” and three numerals “4”… so she actually meant “2444”. Everyone was stunned, nobody figured that out earlier. It was a “talk of the village” for a long time. Even until now, some of the old folks staying in the same place still remember that incident.

Do you bet on numbers? You want the winning numbers for the next draw? I suddenly feel that lady luck is standing beside me now … and I think I heard she said “tiga lima satu lapan” … so you figure it out ok?

April 06, 2010

The best things in life are free

Life is not easy … people are slogging every day hoping to make enough money to buy comfort for the rest of their lives. So engrossed in the rat race, they lost track of what really add values to their lives. They have to pretend and put on different masks to compete in the rat race, so much so that when they come home, they are not sure if it is really themselves they are looking at in the mirror. Life has become so complicated that people need sophisticated gadgets to keep track of themselves … emails, mobile phones, short messages services, blackberries and GPS ... even the computers are talking now. Scary isn’t it?

Confucious said “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated”. How very true and in the complicated labyrinth that people created, many raced through so fast without noticing the simple things in their lives, forgetting to slow down and ask if they understand why they are doing what they are doing. Somehow, somewhere in the complicated race they forgot to be a father, a mother, a husband, a wife, a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter or simply just a friend.

Hey, slow down, take a step back and get out of the complicated race. You don’t really need to do so many things … less is more … it is the sweet, simple things of life that add real values. No need to spend time seeking beyond yourself to get all the things you wanted. Just take time to enjoy things you already have. Take it easy and make it simple. Take time out with the kids and dogs to play in the playground. Find time to hike up nearby hill, take a walk in the nature, stop and smell the flowers, look at the birds and enjoy the morning breeze. Cook a meal for the family or bake a cake to share with friends. Get some exercise or just relax and read a book.

Find time for all these very simple things. And they don’t cost a lot. As a matter of fact, many are free. Ever heard people say that the best things in life are free?